The Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill 2016 has passed Second Stage in the Seanad. I am hoping that Committee Stage in the Seanad will be scheduled for end May, and thereafter, I intend to proceed to enactment as quickly as possible.
As I am sure the Deputy is aware, the Bill seeks to balance the rights to identity and to privacy, which sometimes conflict with one another. Given the constitutional context, striking the balance between these rights is proving challenging, and has required significant engagement between my office and the Office of the Attorney General.
I am conscious of the delay with progressing the Bill. It has been a long and arduous legislative journey. New draft legislation was first announced by former Minister Mary Hanafin in May 2001. Eighteen years later I am confident that the revised privacy provisions that I intend to propose by way of committee stage amendment in the Seanad will have a positive impact on access to birth information, and will be an improvement on the existing provisions in the Bill.
This will only finally succeed if members of the Oireachtas support it. It reflects my sincere efforts to tilt the balance more strongly in favour of applicants' right to identity and access to birth information, while maintaining necessary protections for a small cohort of potentially vulnerable birth parents.